ZICHRON YAACOV, Israel Microsoft is expanding R&D operations here while Intel's Israeli expansion plans have hit a snag.
Microsoft is planning changes to its R&D activities here and has appointed Moshe Lichtman, former TV division vice president, to oversee the expansion of its Israeli investments and R&D projects.
Lichtman will also head a new R&D center in Tel Aviv and will oversee projects at the existing R&D center in Haifa. Microsoft currently employs about 400 employees in Israel. Employment will increase by about 50 when the new R&D center opens.
In a statement, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer said the two Israeli R&D centers will "fulfill an important and ever-growing role in the company's global R&D strategy."
Meanwhile, Intel's plans to expand its operations here have hit a snag. The company is being investigated by Israel’s State Comptroller to determine how it was able to purchase a 5-acre tract in Haifa for $27 million without a tender process. The land, which had been slated for public use, was quickly rezoned. Intel wants to use the land to expand its operations here.
The Haifa municipality confirmed that it place Intel's plan on the fast track so it wouldn't loss out to India, which Intel was considering as a alternative location for its new facility. The comptroller's office said it wants to know how Intel’s master plan for the property was approved in just nine months by local, regional and national planning committees.